Predicting the Effects of Drug Combinations Using Probabilistic Matrix Factorization

Front Bioinform. 2021 Aug 13;1:708815. doi: 10.3389/fbinf.2021.708815. eCollection 2021.


Drug development is costly and time-consuming, and developing novel practical strategies for creating more effective treatments is imperative. One possible solution is to prescribe drugs in combination. Synergistic drug combinations could allow lower doses of each constituent drug, reducing adverse reactions and drug resistance. However, it is not feasible to sufficiently test every combination of drugs for a given illness to determine promising synergistic combinations. Since there is a finite amount of time and resources available for finding synergistic combinations, a model that can identify synergistic combinations from a limited subset of all available combinations could accelerate development of therapeutics. By applying recommender algorithms, such as the low-rank matrix completion algorithm Probabilistic Matrix Factorization (PMF), it may be possible to identify synergistic combinations from partial information of the drug interactions. Here, we use PMF to predict the efficacy of two-drug combinations using the NCI ALMANAC, a robust collection of pairwise drug combinations of 104 FDA-approved anticancer drugs against 60 common cancer cell lines. We find that PMF is able predict drug combination efficacy with high accuracy from a limited set of combinations and is robust to changes in the individual training data. Moreover, we propose a new PMF-guided experimental design to detect all synergistic combinations without testing every combination.

Keywords: active learning; combination therapies; drug discovery; experimental design; matrix factorization; phenotypic screening.